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Utopia Talk / Politics / Death and lockdowns
Tue Mar 23 05:43:52
Death and Lockdowns

There’s no proof that lockdowns save lives but plenty of evidence that they end them.

John Tierney
March 21, 2021

Now that the 2020 figures have been properly tallied, there’s still no convincing evidence that strict lockdowns reduced the death toll from Covid-19. But one effect is clear: more deaths from other causes, especially among the young and middle-aged, minorities, and the less affluent.

The best gauge of the pandemic’s impact is what statisticians call “excess mortality,” which compares the overall number of deaths with the total in previous years. That measure rose among older Americans because of Covid-19, but it rose at an even sharper rate among people aged 15 to 54, and most of those excess deaths were not attributed to the virus.

Some of those deaths could be undetected Covid-19 cases, and some could be unrelated to the pandemic or the lockdowns. But preliminary reports point to some obvious lockdown-related factors. There was a sharp decline in visits to emergency rooms and an increase in fatal heart attacks due to failure to receive prompt treatment. Many fewer people were screened for cancer. Social isolation contributed to excess deaths from dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Researchers predicted that the social and economic upheaval would lead to tens of thousands of “deaths of despair” from drug overdoses, alcoholism, and suicide. As unemployment surged and mental-health and substance-abuse treatment programs were interrupted, the reported levels of anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts increased dramatically, as did alcohol sales and fatal drug overdoses. The number of people killed last year in motor-vehicle accidents in the United States rose to the highest level in more than a decade, even though Americans did significantly less driving than in 2019. It was the steepest annual increase in the fatality rate per mile traveled in nearly a century, apparently due to more substance abuse and more high-speed driving on empty roads.

The number of excess deaths not involving Covid-19 has been especially high in U.S. counties with more low-income households and minority residents, who were disproportionately affected by lockdowns. Nearly 40 percent of workers in low-income households lost their jobs during the spring, triple the rate in high-income households. Minority-owned small businesses suffered more, too. During the spring, when it was estimated that 22 percent of all small businesses closed, 32 percent of Hispanic owners and 41 percent of black owners shut down. Martin Kulldorff, a professor at Harvard Medical School, summarized the impact: “Lockdowns have protected the laptop class of young low-risk journalists, scientists, teachers, politicians and lawyers, while throwing children, the working class and high-risk older people under the bus.”

The deadly impact of lockdowns will grow in future years, due to the lasting economic and educational consequences. The United States will experience more than 1 million excess deaths in the United States during the next two decades as a result of the massive “unemployment shock” last year, according to a team of researchers from Johns Hopkins and Duke, who analyzed the effects of past recessions on mortality. Other researchers, noting how educational levels affect income and life expectancy, have projected that the “learning loss” from school closures will ultimately cost this generation of students more years of life than have been lost by all the victims of the coronavirus.

After the pandemic began in March, the number of excess deaths in the United States rose for all American adults. During the summer, as the pandemic eased, the rate of excess mortality declined among older Americans but remained unusually high among young adults. When statisticians at the Centers for Disease Control totaled the excess deaths for age groups through the end of September, they reported that the sharpest change—an increase of 26.5 percent—occurred among Americans aged 25 to 44.

That trend persisted through fall, and most of the excess deaths among younger people were not linked to the coronavirus, as researchers from the University of Illinois found by analyzing excess deaths from March through the end of November. Among Americans aged 15 to 54, there were roughly 56,000 excess deaths, of which about 22,000 involved Covid-19, leaving 34,000 from other causes. The Canadian government also reported especially high mortality among Canadians under 45: nearly 1,700 excess deaths from May through November, with only 50 of those deaths attributed to Covid-19.

“We don’t know exactly why, but a lot of adults were dying last year who would not have ordinarily died, and it wasn’t just because of Covid,” says Sheldon H. Jacobson, one of the Illinois researchers. “It’s possible that some of the Covid-19 deaths were undercounted, but there were many deaths due to other causes. Shutdowns certainly caused mental health issues, and a lot of preventive medical treatments were delayed.”

Long-ish article continues at http://www.city-journal.org/death-and-lockdowns
large member
Tue Mar 23 05:48:42
Shrug, in Norway, mortality to all causes was down slightly in 2020.
Tue Mar 23 05:52:50

Actually, the article does address Norway as well.

"Norway and Finland were stricter than Sweden in the spring, when they quickly imposed border controls and closed schools and some businesses. But they also reopened quickly and during the rest of the year ranked among the least restrictive countries in Europe. All three Nordic countries have imposed on-and-off restrictions in some areas during outbreaks this winter, but they have avoided extended national lockdowns and other strict measures. Finland recently mandated masks on public transportation, but Norway and Sweden still merely recommend it for commuters; otherwise, they remain among the few countries in Europe without mask mandates. In all three countries, businesses and schools have remained open most of the past year, and relatively few people have worn masks on the streets or in stores, offices, or classrooms.

The three Nordic countries have all done much better than the United States in preventing excess deaths, and there’s one especially troubling difference: the rate of excess mortality among younger people. That rate soared last year among Americans in lockdown, but not among the Swedes, Norwegians, and Finns, who kept going to school, working, and socializing without masks during the pandemic. In fact, among people aged 15 to 64 in each of the Nordic countries, there have been fewer deaths than normal since the pandemic began."
Tue Mar 23 05:58:41
Jergul, I read that, however it also said it was only projections for 20-21.

I couldn't find an accurate source for non projected mortality rates.
large member
Tue Mar 23 06:46:58
This is Norway. The 2020 rates are not projected as the actual numbers for 2020 were released on March 11th

large member
Tue Mar 23 06:48:36
2016 40 726
2017 40 774
2018 40 840
2019 40 683
2020 40 612
Tue Mar 23 07:58:29
I wonder what accounts for it. Perhaps fewer car accidents? I havnt reviewed the data.

I did break into my parents car though, my dad accidently locked my 2 year old neice in the van, luckily it was in the yard, and I found an old coat hanger.
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